The Official MSBS Anime Review: Fate/Grand Order: First OrderModernSpongeBobSucks Should I really make this anime review? I mean, it wasn't bad or anything, but I just feel like reviewing something more worthy of critical analysis than this. Eh, whatever. I'm always a sucker for anything related to the Fate series. Plus, the English release for Fate/Grand Order is now out. Might as well review this before reviewing the new mobile Fate RPG itself and get myself warmed up for making anime reviews this summer. Alright, guys. You know the drill. This is MSBS here and I'm here to review the anime television film Fate/Grand Order: First Order, which is based on the titular online free-to-play RPG Fate/Grand Order, which is also based on the Fate/stay night visual novel game and franchise by Type-Moon. Now I was kind of skeptical about doing a review for this anime adaptation since not much people on here are familiar with the Fate series. In fact, I'm probably the only site's Fate fan on here. I only reviewed Zero and UBW since they're more well-known by mainstream anime fans. Regardless, it was the English release of Fate/Grand Order that prompted me to finally do a review for this. That said, the battle to take back their future begins now... in this review!
Alright, so let's get the synopsis out of the way. So Fate/Grand Order: First Order (I'll be shortening it to First Order to save more time and space for my review) takes place in the year 2015, where an organization called the Chaldea Security Organization relies on the expertise of magical and mundane field scientists to observe the future of mankind for any potential events of extinction. Humanity's survival seems assured for the next century, until one day, everything changes and now humanity is doomed by the end of 2016 (or the beginning of 2017, depending on how you want to interpret it). It's unknown why such a change occurred, but it has been linked to the events of the Fifth Holy Grail War in Fuyuki City in the year 2004. In an effort to stop humanity's extinction, Chaldea begins to use an experimental time travel method known as Rayshift technology. With it, Ritsuka Fujimaru, a new male recruit to the Chaldea Security Organization, and a mysterious female named Mash Kyrielight, must now travel back to the year 2004 during the events of the Fifth Holy Grail War to help change history back to its rightful place and take back humanity's future.
Animation, art, and music: The animation for First Order is done by Lay-duce, a Japanese animation studio founded in August 2013 by ex-Bones employees. As you can tell, they're a pretty new animation studio in the anime industry, so I can't really expect much out of them. Other than First Order, their only other works include Go! Go! 575, Classroom Crisis, and Magi: Adventure of Sinbad. While they're not a bad animation studio in general, they don't quite meet the same level of high-quality animation as ufotable does with more popular Fate series anime adaptations like Fate/Zero and Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works. Regardless, Lay-duce does give us some pretty decent animation. The same can be said for the art as well. For the animation, the choreography of the character movements and fight scenes are good for the most part on its own. One prime example being the fight between the Caster-class Servant Cú Chulainn and the corrupted Archer-class Servant Emiya. As for the art, it maintains the signature designs of the characters to a certain extent. And finally, for the music, it's... not too bad, but the soundtrack isn't really something I would want to listen to on YouTube on repeat for several days. Though, I must say using the same theme song for the mobile game as the theme song for this anime adaptation was the best thing to come out of the film's music. Shikisai by Maaya Sakamoto was engaging and exciting to listen to, if I do say so myself. But overall, for what I have to say about First Order's production value, it's pretty legitimate and decent at best. Not great, but still good. Still would have been better to have A-1 Pictures animate First Order like they did for the mobile game's opening sequence.
Story: Since the story is pretty much straightforward with the whole premise of trying to set things right once something goes terribly wrong for the future of humanity, the only thing I can really judge the story for is its quality, which I can say is done good for the most part. While I'm not too blown away by it looking back on it, I will say that the presentation of the story was done to the best of its capability. Execution wasn't too bad either if I were to judge from a critical and/or personal standpoint. But what really grabbed my attention throughout the duration of the film adaptation (really, I only watched it since I had nothing else to watch while I was riding in the van with my family all the way to New York for reasons that will be kept confidential) were the few key significant moments in the anime. Ranging from journeying back to an apocalyptic Fuyuki City in the past to the true villain's reveal and said villain ushering in a major death of a key character, those moments were really the only things that had me on the edge of my seat. Otherwise, the story is kind of mediocre for me.
Characters: I'll be honest with myself here. Ritsuka and Mash may have had the most climatic moment in the entire anime, but to me, they're not really the best characters. In fact, they kind of felt bland to me in a way. I know a lot of people hate on Shirou Emiya from Fate/stay night, but either way, I think Ritsuka doesn't really feel like much of a character since he's just... there for the sake of story. Same goes for Mash as well, but I think it's best I save my criticisms until the flaws discussion. Really, the only two characters that stood out to me a lot were Olga Marie (or Olgamally) Animusphere and the Caster-class Servant Cú Chulainn. While Olga Marie felt a bit like some Rin Tohsaka clone in terms of personality, her character and importance to the story did make her my most favorite character in the anime. As for Cú Chulainn, he had the most personality out of any character overall. Lancer or Caster, he sure knows how to put on a show and a masterful bravado of a man with undying loyalty and sincerity! Praise to his Wicker Man as well! As for the other characters, they pretty much played their part. Romani Archaman (or Dr. Roman) is the medical doctor of Chaldea who eventually becomes a leading director in Olga Marie's absence in coordinating the main protagonists' mission to fix Singularity F. He's also a pretty funny guy too, such as when Ritsuka spotted him eating cake in his room and the two got shocked at each other. Fou is... well, it's just an accompanying squirrel-like creature voiced by Saber's respective voice actresses (both Japanese and English, surprisingly), so... no need to talk about it. And as for Lev Lainur, I think it's best until you either see the anime or play the mobile game for yourself to find out more about this character. Pretty much, I could care less about the main protagonists, but Olga Marie and Caster are honorable mentions by my bid.
Flaws: Okay, time for some constructive criticism. Don't get me wrong. Ritsuka and Mash are not bad characters at all, but compared to when I played Fate/Grand Order, they don't feel as significant as they should unless it's a really key moment for them in the anime. First off, I'm not really too attached to Ritsuka. Now I understand he's supposed to represent the male avatar you make when you first play Fate/Grand Order (there's also a female avatar too, who just so happened to actually appear as a cameo when Ritsuka was in the assembly for the First Order mission), but they can at least make him more significant. I mean, I'm not saying he should be Ash Ketchum or whatever, but I've seen better protagonists from anime series adapted from video games such as Lenka Utsugi from Ufotable's God Eater anime adaptation. I know a lot of people don't like him for his angst and stuff like how people do with Eren Yeager from Attack on Titan, but I'd take angst-filled over no substance any day. Moving on, there's Mash. Now she's slightly more interesting than Ritsuka, given that Ritsuka said she was an interesting girl at one point in the anime. Unfortunately, I don't think she's quite as compelling of a character as she is in the game. Though, that might be because we don't see as much interaction between the her and Ritsuka as they do in the game. Other than that, I can't really think of anything else that can be considered flaws from the anime.
Conclusion: It isn't no Zero or UBW, but for the most part, it's okay. While it can be considered worth a watch at best and not so at worst, the adaptation does do a solid job of presenting the starting story of Fate/Grand Order in anime form. However, I would highly recommend being familiar with the Fate series before watching this if you want to really get the full appeal of the anime. Because pretty much, it's almost like promotional advertising for the Fate/Grand Order game. Casual fans may not find much that they will like in this anime, but the action scenes might enthuse them enough. So in the end, here is my final score for Fate/Grand Order: First Order:
7.0 out of 10.0 stars
And if you would like to know more about the Fate/Grand Order mobile game, you can visit its official USA website from this link here:
Until then, peace!
Nice review. - Elric-san
Thanks. I appreciate it. But to be honest, I feel like I could have put some more energy into this review. Maybe when I review Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga and Attack on Titan's two seasons and OVAs, I'll have a lot more energy put into them. - ModernSpongeBobSucks
It's still pretty good, though. - Elric-san
Agreed Elric-san. - Skullkid755
I would agree, and we have the same views about Jack. - visitor
A M A Z I N G - TwilightKitsune
rrr - hui112
Really good review! - PeeledBanana
Thanks. I might review the actual mobile game sometime in the future. - ModernSpongeBobSucks
Good reviews. - Tia-Harribel
Well, there's actually going to be more anime adaptations of FGO's later singularity plots, so I'm hoping they can step up the game in the future.
Meanwhile, I'm just waiting for Okeanos to be released... - ModernSpongeBobSucks
The wait is finally over! Okeanos will finally be released for the NA server of Fate/Grand Order on September 28, 2017! - ModernSpongeBobSucks